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Is it just me? (High condition Winchester content within)
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October 27, 2021 - 10:16 am
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I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems to me that the number of in nearly as new circa 1900 Winchesters out there give or take a few decades seems to have proliferated over the last year quarter century or so???

It used to be, it seems, YMMV, that am as new Winchester from that era, while not uncommon, was certainly unusual.

A couple of potential causes:

The folks that owned this stuff simply squirreled it away, this generation being WWII veterans and earlier;

Family members are not interested in this stuff and sell or auction for cash;

It was collected and not sold but displayed in a business.  For example, anyone recall the guns on the wall at Clark’s near Warrenton, Virginia?

The proliferation of firearms auction houses and ease of identifying a possible hammer price; such potential hammer price causes a reluctant seller to sell;

Ease of selling due to the internet and ease of contacting potential brokers. Such as firearms auction houses;

The internet makes the world a whole lot smaller and what was unusual really wasn’t;

And, last but not least, skilled craftsmen out there with the skills to make your Winchester rifle that has a used appearance to it look like it just left the factory.  The internet leads to easily locating such individuals..  That’s their business endeavor, nothing wrong with that.  However, the high cost of this labor is worth the cost as individuals down the line pass this stuff off, knowingly or even unknowingly, further down the line, for financial gain.

Comments and additional root causes welcome!

Many on this forum don’t wish to acknowledge how common the practice of refurbishing Winchesters to as new condition might be, especially if they may have unknowingly purchased an as new refurbished Winchester believing it to be new.

Some of our seasoned collectors, I might add, for example Bert and Burt, have some very nice stuff, it’s all original, and these posts can be used for future reference, as I do.

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October 27, 2021 - 1:53 pm
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mrcvs said
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems to me that the number of in nearly as new circa 1900 Winchesters out there give or take a few decades seems to have proliferated over the last year quarter century or so???
 

I believe it all began about 35 yrs ago with Doug Turnbull, who’d display his work on two tables at the Syracuse show, which, 35 yrs ago, was one of the best in the country.  He changed the perception of many toward refinished guns by making them look literally factory new by “re-manufacturing” them.  Don’t believe those buying such restorations have been “fooled,” the work is too obvious.

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October 27, 2021 - 2:13 pm
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mrcvs said
Some of our seasoned collectors, I might add, for example Bert and Burt, have some very nice stuff, it’s all original, and these posts can be used for future reference, as I do.  

 The key word in this sentence is “original”. A Winchester is only original once! As I write relics are becoming shooters, shooters are becoming collector guns, and serial numbers are being applied to guns being restored. Although the number of original guns is a finite quantity today it is decreasing as people thinker or restore. This makes original more rare. 

 I like the phrases “seasoned collectors”, “have very nice stuff”, and “it’s all original”. Well said! T/R

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October 27, 2021 - 2:17 pm
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clarence said

 

  Don’t believe those buying such restorations have been “fooled,” the work is too obvious.  

 I agree 100%, well said! T/R

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October 27, 2021 - 5:59 pm
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I once stood by while the gun dealer I was traveling with had an argument with a very wealthy but novice collector. My friend was telling him which guns he had on the table had been restored and the potential buyer was arguing with him. The buyer said that they can’t be restored because he sees many like these all over the show.

Gun restoration has always been out there. Not just in the last 35 years.  Some people collect pretty guns and don’t care that a restoration has been done.

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October 27, 2021 - 6:15 pm
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Chuck said

Gun restoration has always been out there. Not just in the last 35 years.  Some people collect pretty guns and don’t care that a restoration has been done.  

Of course–but the difference now is that Turnbull & a few others have taken restoration to a higher level than ever before, made possible by “collectors” willing to spend more for a flawless restoration than for an original in very nice, but not “new” cond.  In fact, many of them shouldn’t be called “restorations,” when the only part of the gun actually mfgd. by the original maker is the rcvr. & maybe a few small parts.

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October 27, 2021 - 7:02 pm
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clarence said

Of course–but the difference now is that Turnbull & a few others have taken restoration to a higher level than ever before, made possible by “collectors” willing to spend more for a flawless restoration than for an original in very nice, but not “new” cond.  In fact, many of them shouldn’t be called “restorations,” when the only part of the gun actually mfgd. by the original maker is the rcvr. & maybe a few small parts.  

You’re right Clarence.  I traveled for over 30 years with a dealer that had a lot of “restored” guns.  Another reason for the higher restoration results is that with computers you can get roll dies made exactly as original and all other parts can be made more accurately.  Even receivers can be made with modern machinery.  It is very expensive to do a quality restoration.  I don’t like restored guns but some do.  I don’t have a problem with restorers as long as everything is above board.  All you need is a serial number and a Factory letter.

Turnbull and others are not the problem.  The dishonest gun dealers are.

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October 27, 2021 - 8:23 pm
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I always find articles about what was called “Counterfeiting” and what we now call “Restoring” from the 1950s very telling about the current state of things. 

It prevails pretty much in every high end commodity. Look at the Art world, automobiles, coin collecting and the fashion industry are full of fakery. I have a friend that collects Morgan dollars. He showed me how in the last 20 years the fakery used in the coin collecting scene has grown shockingly well. Usually the weight is off and they’re too thick to try and make up for the weight, but the details of the engraving on the face and finish are almost unmistakable with an original. He said its to the point the counterfeiters could if they wanted to just start making new silver coins. Except there aren’t any coin dealers running around showing off their “Restored” coins for sale. For some reason they’ll tell you their legit and if you call them on it. They’ll just wait and sell it to somebody that doesn’t know any better.

Who knows, in 50 years Winchesters all maybe “Restored” with few originals left. I’ve been told Europeans have a different outlook on restoration and favor it highly.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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October 27, 2021 - 10:44 pm
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Maverick said
I always find articles about what was called “Counterfeiting” and what we now call “Restoring” from the 1950s very telling about the current state of things. 

It prevails pretty much in every high end commodity. Look at the Art world, automobiles, coin collecting and the fashion industry are full of fakery. I have a friend that collects Morgan dollars. He showed me how in the last 20 years the fakery used in the coin collecting scene has grown shockingly well. Usually the weight is off and they’re too thick to try and make up for the weight, but the details of the engraving on the face and finish are almost unmistakable with an original. He said its to the point the counterfeiters could if they wanted to just start making new silver coins. Except there aren’t any coin dealers running around showing off their “Restored” coins for sale. For some reason they’ll tell you their legit and if you call them on it. They’ll just wait and sell it to somebody that doesn’t know any better.

Who knows, in 50 years Winchesters all maybe “Restored” with few originals left. I’ve been told Europeans have a different outlook on restoration and favor it highly.

Sincerely,

Maverick  

There’s also the scenario of a newly manufactured barrel and new wood along with a “donor” receiver.  I’ve heard it posed there is little pragmatic difference between a donor receiver and the original receiver. On the original receiver, the serial number metal gets scrambled so nice deep stamps can be applied to a smooth surface (and of course it gets completely refinished).  Using a donor receiver for this instead, results in an outcome that is of little difference.  Do not take my comment as an endorsement of this.  I’ll gladly take an original brown rifle instead.  

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October 29, 2021 - 4:03 pm
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I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers here but I’ll venture to say that more than a few “original” guns out there are not and will likely continue to be passed off as original even to seasoned collectors. There could even be a few original guns mistakenly labeled as otherwise. I’ll admit I’m easily fooled by a good restoration and have learned to trust my gut when a gun doesn’t feel right. Some of these guys are good, really good.

 

Mike

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October 29, 2021 - 4:21 pm
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TXGunNut said
I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers here but I’ll venture to say that more than a few “original” guns out there are not and will likely continue to be passed off as original even to seasoned collectors. There could even be a few original guns mistakenly labeled as otherwise. I’ll admit I’m easily fooled by a good restoration and have learned to trust my gut when a gun doesn’t feel right. Some of these guys are good, really good.

 

Mike  

Mike, I agree.  Even hanging out with one of the best restorers I really have a hard time sometimes.  I see guns that scare me.  I used to be able to run for help but many of the older guys have passed.

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October 29, 2021 - 5:11 pm
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TXGunNut said
I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers here but I’ll venture to say that more than a few “original” guns out there are not and will likely continue to be passed off as original even to seasoned collectors. There could even be a few original guns mistakenly labeled as otherwise. I’ll admit I’m easily fooled by a good restoration and have learned to trust my gut when a gun doesn’t feel right. Some of these guys are good, really good.

 

Mike  

I agree as well Mike.  This is one of the reasons I find the high condition guns scary.  It’s worth considering that downrange purchasers of high condition guns have plenty of reasons to be scary.  If very experienced collectors can be fooled, what chance does someone newer in this hobby field have?  My answer:  there’s plenty of lesser conditioned guns that are very enjoyable to own, are decent collectables and of course, you don’t have to pay what a new car cost for one.  I dislike a, “safe ding” on any gun, but we all know there are some guns for which a safe ding comprises a deep tragedy.  

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October 29, 2021 - 6:16 pm
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steve004 said

 This is one of the reasons I find the high condition guns scary. 

It’s the prices that would scare me; that is, if I were interested, which I’m not.

Don’t worry about those safe dings either…no safe!

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